Being overweight may be a more pronounced risk factor of type 2 diabetes than being inactive, according to a new study.
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston studied more than 37,000 women. They analyzed participants’ height, weight, and level of physical activity.
Researchers found both weight and level of physical activity were significant predictors of type 2 diabetes. However, they say being overweight was a stronger predictor.
Results of the study show overweight women were about three-times more likely to develop diabetes, and obese women had more than nine-times the risk of developing the disease. Women who reported being the most active were between 9-percent and 18-percent less likely to develop diabetes compared to those who were the least active.
Authors of the study write, "We observed a modest reduction in the risk of diabetes with increasing physical activity level compared with a large increase in the risk with increasing BMI (body mass index). Our study suggests that to further reduce the risk of diabetes with physical activity, it should be performed in conjunction with achieving weight loss."
In an accompanying editorial, Steven N. Blair, P.E.D., and Tim S. Church, M.D., from the Cooper Institute in Dallas, write, "In essence, physical activity is the common denominator for the clinical treatment of low fitness and excess weight, making the ‘fitness vs. fatness’ debate largely academic. Thus, physicians, researchers and policymakers should spend less energy debating the relative health importance of fitness and obesity and more time focusing on how to get sedentary individuals to become active."
Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004;292:1232-1233